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Marketing Mess to Brand Success with Scott Miller | On Top of PR podcast

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On Top of PR podcast: Marketing Mess to Brand Success with guest Scott Miller and show host Jason Mudd episode graphicScott Miller discusses how to learn from your communication mistakes to develop brand success.

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Our episode guest is Scott Miller, Special Advisor on Thought Leadership for the Franklin Covey Company and host of their weekly podcast series, On Leadership with Scott Miller. Scott is also the author of several books.


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Episode notes:

Hello, and welcome to "On Top of PR," I'm your host, Jason Mudd with Axia Public Relations. Today, we are joined by Scott Miller. Scott, welcome to the show.

Jason, thank you for the invite, the spotlight, and the platform. Looking forward to our conversation today.


Well, I'm glad to be here. I'm glad you're here too. And today we're talking about "Marketing Mess to Brand Success."


And for our audience, Scott Miller has more than 25 years experience as a chief marketing officer and executive VP, a business development at FranklinCovey. You currently serve as a senior advisor where you develop the firm's speakers bureau, as well as the publication of podcast, webcast, and books. And you are also a bestselling author of "Mess to Success" series. So with that, Scott, thank you and welcome.


Hey, my pleasure, man, looking forward to it.


So you speak regularly on behalf of FranklinCovey and you know, this is a regular topic for you. And you have a special offer for our audience also, is that right?


I do. So I've written numerous books, they're kind of behind me. Onto my fifth book, launching this year. I host the world's largest weekly leadership podcast called "On Leadership with Scott Miller." And the offer you're referring to is the second book in the "Mess to Success" series, which those of you who are watching today is the green book behind me, a marketing master brand success. If you wanna connect with me on LinkedIn and send me your shipping address, I'll mail you a copy of the cards that I use in all of my keynote speeches. Each of the 30 challenges that are focused on that book comes in a card deck, both print and or digital, but I'm happy you a copy of the card that comes in a little sleeve here. I'm throwing cards around. But you send me your shipping address, and I'll mail you a deck of cards.


Well, that sounds like a great offer. And so they can find you at LinkedIn at Scott Jeffrey Miller?


That's right.


All right. Well, before we start ask people to do that, let's earn it. So why don't you tell us a little bit more about your book "Marketing Mess to Brand Success"?


Sure. So the first book I wrote was called "Management Mess to Leadership Success," that's the dark blue book behind me, "30 Challenges to Become the Leader You Would Follow." And after a nearly 30-year career in the leadership development industry, working for FranklinCovey, which is arguably the most influential leadership firm in the world founded by Dr. Steven R. Covey of the book, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People." I decided to write a book about my own leadership and management troubles, my messes, and my successes. The book became a best seller. And so the second book in that "Mess to Success" series was "Marketing Mess to Brand Success," 30 challenges to build the brand really you want. And as the chief marketing officer for the FranklinCovey company, a global public company, where I was responsible for brand public relations, all of our thought leadership, I decided to write a similar book on all of the marketing challenges that people in public relations, and branding, and marketing, and messaging, advertising, even in sales, face in their career. The books are funny. They're witty. They're fast reads. And I share a lot of my challenges in the hopes that people who are in public relations, and branding, and marketing, can learn from the remarkable experience I've had leading a global brand, a global public company with, you know, worldwide offices and reach. So the books, like I said, are funny and witty, and I hope they're also relevant to people in both leadership and sales and marketing careers.


Well, the Franklin Covey definitely have as a strong brand and a great reputation. And how many books have you written so far, Scott?


So I've written two books in the "Mess to Success" series. Another book I wrote over here, is called "Everyone Deserves a Great Manager: 6 Critical Practices to Leading a Team," that become a Wall Street Journal Best Seller. And then the ones on the end, on this end down here is called "Master Mentors," by HarperCollins. That's a book I write annually, I've written two of them. And that is basically "30 Transformative Insights from Our Greatest Minds." I pick 30 of, I think, the most influential interviews from the podcast I host called "On Leadership With Scott Miller." And I write a short story about that guest and one insight that I learned from them. Also become a best seller. And volume two launches in 2022 and volume three of a 10 volume series launches, or sorry. In 2022, there'll be a volume coming out every year for 10 years highlighting ultimately 300 master mentors, all of which have appeared on the "On Leadership Podcast" that I host for FranklinCovey.


Scott, that sounds awesome. Congratulations on your success there.


Thank you.


So let's talk about "Marketing Mess to Brand Success". Our audiences, as we talked about a little bit earlier, is typically, you know, a chief marketing officer, chief communications officer at a regional, national, or global company.




And so what are we gonna help them accomplish during our time together?


Well, I think to recognize that, you know, all of us are gonna have marketing messes. All of us are gonna have communication messes. The key is to own them, learn from them, teach through them. When you own your mess, you make it safe for others to own theirs. Doesn't every leader wish their team owned all their mistakes and their messes? And so I think we can review some of the 30, I picked 30. Each of the "Mess to Success" books, I have 30 messes. The next book is "Job Mess To Career Success" and then "Communication Mess To Influence Success." So the theme, if you will kind of red thread across all of them, are 30 challenges that everybody in a marketing career faces, you can pick any of them or I can pick a few and go deep into them.


Yeah. Okay. So let's pick a few of your favorites.


You know, I think the first one, ironically, the first challenge is called "It's the Customer, Stupid."


[Jason] Okay.


I say that just because of course it's based on the Clinton-Gore Campaign back in 1992, is the economy stupid. And it's just an important reminder that it's easy for all of us to get caught up in our own company's issues, our mission, our values, our EBITDA, our third-quarter results. When every marketer understands it's all about the customer. And you have to sometimes, you know, summon an unnatural level of resilience to-
[Jason] Yes.


Be in the customer's court, to understand what is their circumstance, what are they thinking about? What is the problem they're trying to solve? Not what is the challenge you are trying to solve for your company? Use their language, use their acronyms. I have some great stories in the book on how easy it is to get sucked into obviously your company's priorities. And when you're in marketing and public relations, you need to be oftentimes, the sane voice of the marketplace and to represent them back in your organization's meetings. And how often are you talking about the customer? I actually write, you should keep track of how many meetings are about your supply chain or your product launch versus how many are about the customer's problems.


Right. Scott, I love that. And I thank you for having that be one of your first ones because that's the thing we're talking about all the time is, you know, the spotlight should be on the audience, right?


Yes. Not on the company. Shouldn't be, we've been in business 20 years, we have this many employees, we have this many locations. No one cares, right?


No one. Or you care.




And the owner cares, right?




And that's exactly right.




Donald Miller, the famous marketing mind that wrote many books, including "Building a StoryBrand," says, "Most people's messaging is like a cat chasing a rat in a wind chime factory to your point. No one cares why you're in business or how many locations, you know, when it's time to, you know, expand with you, they might care. But that's not part of why they're hiring you.


[Jason] That's right.


Trust me.


Yeah. I totally agree. And I love that. And you know, the idea is that obviously, your job is, as you said earlier, is to help solve their problems and if it happens to be through your company, so be it. But you know, shift the spotlight onto them. And yeah, Don Miller and "StoryBrand" is something that we actively practice here as well. So I'm glad.


Donald Miller is one of the 30 mentors in my book, "Master Mentors."


Oh, good. Excellent. Yeah. And let's see, I heard you just got done doing a recording with Mel Robbins, and I shared a keynote stage with her at Grant Cardone's first 10X.


Yes. Yes.


You're legit. You're legit, man. That's awesome.


Yeah. Yeah.


Your clients should know that. Yeah. I interviewed Grant Cardone just two weeks ago. Both of them are powerhouses, right? Fire. So what an honor for you to be on the stage with them.


Yeah. They're good people. Good friends. So yeah. Well Scott, what's the next item we wanna talk about?


You know, I might actually go to challenge two.


[Jason] Okay. Let's do it.


Which is, you know, "Marketing Is Not Just a Division." I could skip around a lot, and perhaps we will if time gives us. But, everybody in your organization is in public relations. Everybody is in marketing.


[Jason] Right.


Not just those who are in marketing. Everybody is an ambassador for your brand and they should be trained and they should be advised of the responsibility of how they are a brand ambassador for your company. No matter how large or how small.


[Jason] Mm-hmm.


And you know, and marketing and publications have changed so much, right? No longer is PR in the business of calling up reporters and just trying to press, you know, places news articles.


[Jason] Right.


There are no reporters anymore, there's no newsrooms, right? PR of course has gone so far beyond what was the traditional role PR played. And many times now it's, you know, crisis control or brand management. But it's around writing books and articles and creating thought leadership and being on podcast-


[Jason] Right.


And actually educating the marketplace. I think public relations' new job really is out there, is helping to understand what is your organization's expertise and why should clients in the marketplace care. Everybody's in PR, not just the public relations leader, everybody's in marketing. So, I think it's vital that you understand that if everyone is an ambassador for your firm and for your brand, they need to be well, pardon me, well educated on what is the value proposition, whether they're in finance or whether they're in marketing, whether they're in sales, whether they're in product development. That don't just think marketing owns marketing, everyone owns marketing.


Yeah. It's interesting. So we're back to the, who cares outside your four walls of your company? Right? What's the value for them when you're communicating? And I'm with you, I think everybody is in a PR, in a marketing, in a customer service. And as we mentioned, Grant Cardone earlier, you know, I learned from him years ago, he and I were talking, he said, you know, "Everybody's in sales, right?" Whether you're selling as an engineer, that this is the safest plan, or if you're selling as you know, a technician, you're assuring that customer that you know what you're doing and you've got the credentials. And so you're every day you're selling, whether it's to convince your employer that you should keep your job, or it's to get a customer to buy or it's to get somebody to stay with your organization or persuade someone to partner with you. There's a lot of options out there.


Yeah. Nicely said, you're exactly right. Everybody's in sales. Whether your title says it or not. Whether you resisted or not. Whether you say I hate selling.


[Jason] Yep.


Well then you probably, aren't a very good salesperson. You need to learn that skill.


And good sales is helping people is what I always say too, right? You're not persuading someone, you're helping someone, so.


I heard, Jason, once someone else said this, it wasn't me. They said, "The best salespeople, aren't those that have memorized their second-quarter revenue goal. It's the ones that have memorized their clients' second-quarter revenue goal." And they're focused on helping their client achieve their revenue goal. It's a great mindset to have, no matter what role in sales you have is, are you focused on your stakeholder goals, not just your own?


Right. Right. Well, let's focus on one more item before we go to our quick break, Scott.


Sure. I'd say challenge 10 is called, "Augment Your Business Acumen."


[Jason] Okay.


Whether you are a marketing or advertising professional, whether you are a public relations professional, you need to understand what is your company's money-making model. I once interviewed a woman who was the chief people officer for a large company, Pluralsight, a large technology training company. Her name was Anita Grantham. And I was hosting at the time, a radio program, on iHeartRadio called "Great Life, Great Career with Scott Miller." And I interviewed her about the culture, about training, and learning, but her ability to describe in detail their product and their value proposition and their margin, and how they solved problems for customers was remarkable. You would've thought she was the chief innovation officer or the chief spokesperson. I mean, this chief people officer knew this company's business model inside and out. So if you are on this side of the business, the marketing, branding, innovations, public relations, advertising side, you've gotta make sure you understand your business' money-making model, the five parts of business. Margin, cash, velocity, customers, and growth. How does your company make profit? What are your profit margins? Can you articulate your company's value proposition? Whether it's highly technical or not? I think this is an area that people in public relations and marketing find themselves a little bit in over their heads as they know how to market, but they don't deeply understand the business of their company's business. So if you can't read a P&L, that's not a problem, go learn. If you don't understand the difference between a balance sheet and you know, your cash flow statement, you need to learn that. And you need to understand really how does your company earn cash? Because the closer you are to the cash-


[Jason] Mm-hmm.


The more likely your job is going to be secure.


Yeah, it's like talking about the difference between a cost center and a profit center. You wanna position yourself as a profit center for the organization?


That's right. Awesome.


For our audience, John Herbkersman has been on our show before. He's a former executive with General Electric. And that's one of the things I learned in talking to him, is this idea when he takes over, he comes into a new role as a senior leadership role in a PR, corporate communications department. He interviews each person, you know, each employee in that department. And one of the first questions he asks them is how does this organization make money?




And if they struggle to answer that, that's a red flag for him.




The second question is, okay, now that we know how the company makes money, what does your job do to contribute to that?


That's right.


And if they can't figure that out, that's another red flag. And so he's asked people point-blank, so you're in charge of a newsletter that goes to the company employees. What does that do for the company and help its top line, bottom line, et cetera? And a lot of times they're like, "Well, the newsletters really pretty, and it's always AP style, and it's always grammatically correct, and it presents well, and it's beautiful when printed." He's like, "That's great, but how does it help the company make money?"


That's exactly right. And sometimes it's not their fault for not knowing. Their leader may have been disconnected or protected them from, you know, the business side of the business.


[Jason] Yeah.


So it's your job. It's incumbent upon you as the leader to make sure you educate your team on what is your company's money-making model and how do you directly contribute to that? Or if not directly support someone else who does.
Yes, and that's the building block to a say, a marketing or corporate communications, PR professional, being able to measure the outcome the output of their successes, right? So if you can't align with the business' objectives, whether that's profit or revenue or retention of employees or whatever, if you're not lining up with that, and you're measuring completely different things, no wonder you don't have a seat in the boardroom.


And not everything can be measured, right? I mean, if you're a chief marketing officer or director of marketing, you don't tell me how many impressions this magazine will reach or, you know, you can't deposit impressions in the bank and fund payroll off of it.


[Jason] That's true.


And not everything can be measured. And most business leaders understand that. But the more you can do to constantly tweak and tighten and align everything you're doing with the company's money-making model, that will be seen and felt and heard.


[Jason] Yeah.


And if it's ever in question, you'll be given the benefit of the doubt.


Yeah. Well, let's hope so, right?




Yeah. All right, Scott, with that, we're gonna take a quick break and come back with more from Scott Miller, from FranklinCovey on the other side. So stay with us. You're listening to "On Top of PR" with your host, Jason Mudd, Jason is a trusted advisor to some of America's most admired and fastest-growing brands. He is the managing partner at Axia Public Relations. A PR agency that guides news, social and web strategies for national companies. And now back to the show.


Welcome back to "On Top of PR", we're joined by Scott Miller of FranklinCovey, and he's going through some of his tips to move from a "Marketing Mess to Brand Success." And we're checking out these cards that he has. So Scott, we're gonna talk about number 15, which I believe is, "Friend, Your Competition." Tell us more about that.


Sure. So you might not think this is a marketing or public relations title, but I really think it's a new leadership competency. Gone are the days from the '70s and '80s and '90s where your value proposition was, you know, trashing your competition or talking about their weaknesses. That's just so passé, right? No one's doing that now. There's enough for everyone. Great public relations and marketing people have an abundance mentality, not a scarcity mentality.


[Jason] Right.


And so friending your competition is just that, it's making sure that you are understanding and building mutually beneficial and trustworthy relationships with your counterparts in your competition. That doesn't mean you are divulging any company secrets. Of course not, you have a fiduciary responsibility to your company, but you're learning from them. What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses? Where are they finding success? Where are they struggling? And then sharing with them appropriate things as well. Of course, there are boundaries. You should make sure your leader knows you're doing this, but some of the biggest successes I've had in my own marketing career, as a CMO, I've come from meeting with CMOs of other fiercely competitive firms in the marketplace. We're all friendly, of course, and they have strengths and we have strengths and they do different things than we do. But that's been really valuable to me to build those relationships 'cause it's a small world and mergers and acquisitions are more and more frequently. So it's just important to keep your network strong, but also to learn from people who are doing similar things than you are, it might be different industries.


[Jason] Yeah.


So if you're in healthcare, go friend someone over in, you know, the pharma business or a perhaps in home construction because the principles of marketing, the principles of advertising and public relations are the same, regardless of your industry or company, you just have to tweak them and apply them to your own brand.
Scott, I completely agree with you. And I was just gonna add the same thing. Some of the benefits that we're talking about here are just like being in a PR agency environment. We have clients in certain industries who have already addressed certain regulatory or challenges that are just now impacting a different industry. So we bring that body of knowledge and experience to the table and that insight. In addition, like you said, you know, if you're gonna get acquired, right? If your company's gonna get acquired, there's a good chance you're getting acquired by a competitor, right?




So you may as well start extending that olive branch right now. And I'm with you. You know, I think the internet and Web 2.0 when we started getting more collaborative, in community with one another is when you start to see companies actually work together to advance the industry as opposed to butting heads and not working together.


That's right.


So, I'm with you.


It's probably more fierce in certain industries, but it doesn't mean you still cannot friend your competition and have an olive branch to understand where the industry's going and where are they headed, and what's working for them?


Some of my best friendships have also come from these relationships where I've friended my peer in a competitive industry or in a competitive company in the same industry.


Yeah. And it sure is nice to say, "Hey, we're seeing X, Y, and Z. Are you seeing it too?"


That's exactly right.


They say, "We are," and then you commiserate together.


That's exactly right.


Two of you are stronger, right? Stronger together to go through it that way than doing it on your own. And what's the cliche? You know, a rising tide floats all boats, right?


Well said. Yep.






Okay. And then we're gonna talk about number 17, "Hire People Who Are Smarter Than You," that's one of my favorites.


Yeah. So this one, of course, is probably a leadership principle, but it certainly applies in marketing and public relations. And that is, you know, your job as the leader if in fact, you are, is not to be the smartest person in the room. No one wants to work with or for the smartest person in the room. And to quote Liz Wiseman, of course, my dear friend who wrote the book "Multipliers," I think the best leadership book in publication, "Your job is not to be the genius, but rather the genius maker of others." So if you're the chief marketing officer, or the VP of marketing, or public relations, your job is to go and find the most talented people you can. People who perhaps are even more talented than you are. It's a big lesson I learned as the CMO of FranklinCovey. I couldn't possibly be the expert in SEO, or marketing automation, or Salesforce integration, or, you know, gosh, any number of new technology stacks or decks that I was constantly being overwhelmed by.


[Jason] Right.


I couldn't understand everything everywhere. I had to check my ego.


[Jason] Yeah.


And recognize that my job is to both recruit and retain the most talented people in my space, and make sure that they have the culture and the red tape, you know, built up and cut away for them to go do their job. So this is a great reminder to everyone that your job is not to know everything, your job is to recruit and be a magnet for people that do. And be very comfortable when their knowledge is more in depth than yours. And raise them up, say, "Actually, you know, Charlie is the expert on this. I'm gonna defer to him because he knows vastly more than I do." And be comfortable with that. Because your value does not come from you knowing everything it comes from you, being able to admit, "I don't understand that, teach me about that." People wanna work for that kind of leader.
E.J. McKnight is a motivational speaker and years ago, I remember I learned from him, "Hire smart people and get out of their way."




And I've applied that. I was very early in my career and I've applied it throughout my career, right? Hire the best people you can find, make you know, smarter people than you are, and then get outta their way and let them be achievers.
And Jason, it takes a mature person. I don't know that that was my competency in my 20s and 30s, and quite frankly, some of my 40s, I thought my job was to be the expert in most things.


[Jason] Right.


But I think I confused the fact that although the buck stopped with me as the CMO, ultimately I was responsible for-


[Jason] Sure.


You know, the success or failures of our team.


[Jason] Right.


That didn't mean that I had to be the smartest or the most creative or the most talented or the most, you know, well-spoken or the best writer on everything. I had to model great behaviors. But you had to summon a level of maturity to realize that your job is to achieve results with and through other people.


[Jason] Yes. Yeah.


And once that becomes your mindset, then you coach, and you build capability, and you're comfortable surrounding yourself with people who are noticeably more talented than you are.


Yeah, when I'm advising clients, just like you're describing, right? Sometimes they think they have to know it all. And instead, like you said, they gotta have the ownership and accountability, and responsibility for producing the results. But at the end of the day, they need to surround themselves with experts who can get the job done. They need to understand a little bit, right? So they make sure their BS meter is on and they're not, you know, being misled.




But at the end of the day, you know, I was advising a chief market officer you know, he's telling me how he's doing all these very micro activities. And I was like, if your current PR agency is expecting you to do that as the seat chief marketing officer, something's wrong either on your end or their end with that relationship. So you gotta... You know, was it Tim Ferris says, "Delegate, automate..." excuse me, "Eliminate, delegate, automate." And then I add to that, and then verify, right? Verify it's actually being done.


Yeah. Nicely done.


Yeah. Yeah. All right. So Scott, we're running outta time here quickly. I appreciate all that you've shared. If somebody's motivated and wants to get a hold of you or has a question for you, how do they best reach you?


Sure, you can find me on every social media platform, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. Find me, search for Scott Miller. You can subscribe to my podcast, "On Leadership With Scott Miller." If you go to LinkedIn and connect with me, and send me your mailing address, I'll pop a printed copy of the cards for "Marketing Mess" in the mail to you. You also can visit my website, Scottjeffreymiller.com. All of my podcast episodes are there. My columns for Inc. Magazine, all my blogs, all of the interviews, all my books, all things Scott Miller are at scottjeffreymiller.com.
Perfect. And any closing words of wisdom for our audience, Jeff or Scott.


You know, I think the number one competency that I'm looking for in everyone I hire, whether they're in sales, or marketing, or advertising, publications, is their ability to, you know, articulate their thoughts, to reduce their thoughts to writing. At the end of the day, there's so much digital work going on. You gotta hone your writing skills, hone your storytelling skills.


[Jason] Absolutely.


Be really talented at reducing your thoughts succinctly to writing. So stop watching television, keep reading books and magazines and newspapers and reading as much as you can, because that's what will build your vocabulary. I don't know who it was, but somebody more wise than me once said, "You can only think as broad as your vocabulary is deep" or vice versa. So never stop reading. I love podcasting, I love, you know, your downtime on certain Netflix shows, but I'm a voracious reader in print, still. I read multiple books a week. You can see them. Sorry, this side, this is this week's books have been mailed to me for interviews from the podcast. So I am still very much fond of the print word. So never stop reading 'cause it will absolutely build your ability to think and reduce your thoughts to writing. Writing is still such a valuable competency in business.


Well, Scott, we're gonna put a link in the episode notes to your books, as well as the "Multiplier" book.


Thank you.


And other resources we've talked about here today.


Thank you, Jason. Thanks for the spotlight. Appreciate the time today.


Yeah, my pleasure. We're glad to do it. And with that, is another episode of "On Top of PR." Thank you for tuning in. If you benefited from this episode, please take a moment to make sure that Scott knows that and you reach out to him and take advantage of his cards. I know I am. But more importantly, if you enjoyed this episode, take a minute to share it with a friend or a colleague who you think would benefit from the message that we shared here today. They would appreciate it. We would appreciate it as well. And with that, thank you for tuning in and staying "On Top of PR". I'm your host, Jason Mudd with Axia Public Relations.


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About your host Jason Mudd

On Top of PR host, Jason Mudd, is a trusted adviser and dynamic strategist for some of America’s most admired brands and fastest-growing companies. Since 1994, he’s worked with American Airlines, Budweiser, Dave & Buster’s, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Southern Comfort, and Verizon. He founded Axia Public Relations in July 2002. Forbes named Axia as one of America’s Best PR Agencies.


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